Skills academy opens

23 April 2013

TWO projects were launched by Buffalo City and its German sister city, Oldenburg, both of which were set up to help local youth.

Oldenburg officials were in Buffalo City to sign an agreement with the East London Industrial Development Zone (ELIDZ) for a skills development programme targeted at engineering students. The deal was signed last week.

Speaking about the initiative, Oldenburg's international relations co-ordinator, Roland Hentschel said: "Our skills academy is set to be based at the ELIDZ and will offer training to aspiring artisans and in other engineering subjects. We are proud to announce that over 150 students [were] trained through the programme before it was launched at the Master Artisan Academy of South Africa."

Other aspects of study would be covered at the academy, such as social development and awareness, consultative support, and research and development capacity for all students.

Executive Mayor Zukiswa Ncitha said: "The signing of this agreement is a testament of our two cities' commitment to working together to achieve our development goals." The partnership would also focus on the economic development of the city and skills and capacity building programmes for improved service delivery.

The second project, the South African Green Schools initiative, was launched on Thursday, 18 April at Merrifield Preparatory School and College. It is a collaboration between Buffalo City, the Border-Kei Chamber of Business, and Oldenburg.

Through it, pupils will learn more about their environment. "Through this programme schools will be taught various ways of how to recycle and will also learn of how to take care of the environment," explained the chamber's Les Holbrook.

Dr Guy Hartley, the headmaster of Merrifield College, added: "One of our key mission goals of the school is to nurture an environmental awareness, being situated in a country environment." The initiative would ultimately have a carbon neutral footprint.

It was well received by the East London Energy Forum, and its chairman, Chris Ettmayr, said: "A very useful manner in which to convey such practices is to start with those people that are most open to learning, being the youth who are not completely formed in the habits of adults and more open to change and new ideas. They in turn, could actually create a learning atmosphere in their homes if they start to actively participate in the industry."

The officials from Oldenburg will be in Buffalo City until 24 April.

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The headmaster of Merrifield College, Guy Hartley, explains to the visitors how the school will tackle recycling

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